Veterinary Public Health Institute, Animal Welfare Division

Dr. Stefanie Riemer

Group Leader Companion Animal Behaviour Group

Division of Animal Welfare

+41 31 631 22 13
Postal Address
Division of Animal Welfare
Vetsuisse Faculty
University of Bern
Längassstrasse 120
CH 3012 Bern

I graduated with a BSc in Animal Behaviour and Environmental Biology from Anglia Ruskin University, UK, with a thesis on captive spectacled bears. For my MSc project at University of Vienna, Austria, I studied the ecology of five woodpecker species at the Donauauen National Park in Lower Austria. I went on to do my PhD on behavioural development and physical cognition in domestic dogs at the Department of Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna, and at the Messerli Research Institute, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna. During my PhD I spent four months as a visiting researcher at the University of Lincoln, UK, to carry out a study on impulsivity in dogs. After finishing my PhD project in Vienna, I returned to Lincoln to work on the project “thermographic assessment of animal emotions”. This was followed by a postdoctoral research fellowship, also in Lincoln, on the successive negative contrast effect (or sensitivity to reward change) in dogs. I am now pursuing my interest in animal emotions, cognition and behaviour further with research projects on pet dogs’ emotional expression and reward sensitivity at the University of Berne.

Current research

  • Dog Behaviour Decoded – Emotional Expressions in Canis familiaris 
  • Reward sensitivity in dogs – risk factor for addictive behaviour and key to trainability (SNF Ambizione Project PZ00P3_174221)
  • Reducing fear in dogs at the vets
  • Behavioural strategies in dogs during firework exposure
  • Preference for constant vs varied reinforcement in pet dogs

Recent Publications

15) Riemer S, Assis L, Pike T & Mills D (2016) Dynamic changes in ear temperature in relation to separation distress in dogs. Physiology & Behavior, in press.

14) Riemer, S., Müller, C., Virányi, Z., Huber, L., & Range, F. (2016). Individual and group level trajectories of behavioural development in Border collies. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 180, 78–86.

13) Thompson, H., Riemer, S., Ellis, S. L., & Burman, O. H. (2016). Behaviour directed towards inaccessible food predicts consumption—A novel way of assessing food preference. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 178, 111-117.

12) Riemer S, Ellis, SL, Ryan S, Thompson H & Burman OH (2016). A reappraisal of successive negative contrast in two populations of domestic dogs. Animal Cognition, 19(3), 471-481.

11) Müller C, Riemer S, Virányi Zs, Huber L & Range F (2016). Inhibitory Control, but Not Prolonged Object-Related Experience Appears to Affect Physical Problem-Solving Performance of Pet Dogs. PloS one, 11(2), e0147753.